F-35B and C

UPDATED: Safety Engine Inspections Make Trans-Atlantic Flights Impracticable  

FARNBOROUGH AIR SHOW: That whoosh sound you just heard was the air rushing out of all the Pentagon officials, Lockheed Martin employees and the myriads who still hoped the F-35Bs would fly here.

Rear Adm. John Kirby issued this statement at 7 p.m BST during a Pentagon press conference, less than 12 hours after news broke about the fleet’s grounding being lifted:

“This is a limited flight clearance that includes an engine inspection regimen and a restricted flight envelope which will remain in effect until the root cause of the June 23 engine mishap is identified and corrected.

“That said, I can confirm that the Department of Defense — in concert with our partners in the U.K. — has decided not to send Marine Corps and UK F-35B aircraft across the Atlantic to participate in the Farnborough air show.

“This decision was reached after consultation with operational commanders and air worthiness authorities, despite the decision by air worthiness authorities to clear the aircraft to return to flight.

“When we consider deploying aircraft operationally we look at many factors, to include operational risk, weather and ground time. All these factors were weighted appropriately in making this difficult decision.

“While we are disappointed, we remain fully committed to the program and look forward to future opportunities to showcase its capabilities to allies and partners.

“As Secretary Hagel made clear, safety – as always — remains our top priority.”

UPDATE BEGINS: At his Pentagon press conference yesterday Kirby went on to reveal that the F-35 fleet is “limited to a max speed of 0.9 Mach, 18 degrees of angle of attack. They can go from minus one to a positive three Gs and a half a stick deflection for rolls.

“More critically, after three hours of flight time, each front fan section of the — of each engine has to be inspected with a borescope. So after every three hours of flight time, you got to do a borescope inspection of the front fan section of the engine. That was a pretty significant limitation in terms of being able to fly them across the Atlantic,” he told reporters.

Finally, Kirby said the military believes the F-35 fleet will be restored to”full operational capability in the near future.” UPDATE ENDS

I didn’t bother contacting Lockheed officials about this one. We all know what they would say.



  • Solomon-snafu

    Well so much for those armchair generals and bloggers claiming that safety would be given a pass and the jets would fly to the air-show. Too bad that blog entries were wasted to diss the program and its blatant disregard for safety. There was even an blog entry claiming that a “death is imminent” in the program because the program is showing utter disregard for safety.

    • http://www.breakingdefense.com/ Colin Clark

      There are rational critics and then…


  • CharleyA

    A win for prudence. I really thought that the jets would make the trip – for all the wrong reasons. Why it took so long to make the decision to ground the jets, then a stuttering return to limited flight status would make a very interesting story.

  • Curtis Conway

    Actually it restores my faith in the DoD system and the faith I always took for granted in the Chain of Command. If we were just concerned about selling airplanes the birds would have left for Merry Old England. What a statement that would have been. However, with concurrency in effect, the more cautious approach is refreshing, particularly when the decision was made with the concurrency of our partners in Great Britain. Remember, this is the same Chain of Command that has spent $Billions on the Speed Boat that will have a hard time surviving the fight once it arrives . . . LCS!

  • originalone

    Good decision. It would have been a disaster if anything happened on the flight over. I suppose there will be speculation that something was found that could have led to such, but we will never know. At least the price of the pilots outweighed any gain from showing up over there.

  • Mitchell Fuller

    Yet decision reinforces reality this bird, which is slated to be the bulk of our fighters for AF, Navy/Marines, is not ready (and most likely will never be) for prime time after 14 plus years of development and production.

    And remember every bird already produced due to concurrency will have to go back to LM for fixes.

    And we still don’t know the cost per unit………..

  • Roy Mallmann

    If this was China, they would execute the project manager.

    • Don Chan

      When was the last project manager executed in China. Do provide me with the exact name and date of incidence.